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MEET THE LUMINARIES - Sunday times lifestyle

It’s no secret that photography is a male-dominated industry and that women scarcely get the recognition they deserve. For Lampost, a leading photography and creative management agency, this is cause for change. So, after a nationwide scouting process, a women-led team from Lampost selected four women to mentor and upskill in a 10-month programme titled Lampost Luminaries.

The four are: Thalente Khomo, whose work focuses on objectification of women ’s bodies in SA; Lebo Tlhako, who zooms in on youth in townships; Lili Ming, who introduces her feminine gaze into the male-dominated industry, and Basetsana Maluleka, who shines a light on marginalised voices. The four young photographers hope this will be a stepping stone to dismantling the gender binaries limiting them — and many women — from opportunities that exclude them on the basis of gender. “I want people to see photographers as just photographers without saying we ’re females,” says Maluleka. “It ’s time to make sure we recognise talent for what it is and give credit where it’s due — instead of not hiring us as photographers who are women and because people think that we cannot do it.”

For Ming, it became important to spread a message of being confident in one’s art. “Take opportunities, even if it’s from a man, even though there’s a hierarchy, keep pushing.” The panel behind choosing the luminaries consisted of creative director Kass Naidoo; Nandi Dlepu, founder of Johannesburg-based creative agency Mamashaka, and Jodie Ennik, founder of Lampost. “I’m proud of how they have each grown in craft, skill and their discipline,” says Ennik. “This has been a busy 10 months despite Covid lockdown and they have risen to the occasion.” The four were each given a monthly stipend while taking part in the mentorship, which was divided into three sections that helped hone their craft before their big shoot for Sunday Times LifeStyle. “It ’s been an inspiring 10 months with our first four Lampost Luminaries. Our mentors and sponsors have been incredibly important to this successful journey, and we are grateful to them,” said Ennik. Luminary Tlhako says young up-and- coming female photographers should: “Take all the opportunities available to you and kick ass.” In a similar sentiment, Khomo advises women to take risks, just like she and her fellow Luminaries did. “Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to demand your presence in a space. Always be willing to grow and learn to improve your skills in the work that you are doing.”

Production: Sharon Armstrong | Text: Thango Ntwasa | Makeup: Lesley Whitby | Hair styling: Saadique Ryklief

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